Elliot Sperling

September 17, 2016

The Dire Consequences of the Imprisonment of Ilham Tohti

The nomination last week of the imprisoned Uyghur Professor Ilham Tohti for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is welcome recognition of the […]
August 12, 2014

Self Delusion

I have been asked by the editors to prepare an essay that sums up some of the positions I’ve taken on Tibet issues over the years. […]
May 30, 2014

Selbsttäuschung – „Die Politik des Mittleren Weges ist realitätsfern“

Selbsttäuschung nenne ich das, was die Politik der tibetischen Exilführung und die Meinung vieler Tibet-Unterstützer in meinen Augen am treffendsten kennzeichnet. Im Grunde genommen ist die […]
May 24, 2014

Vie et mort du Xe panchen-lama

Groupe d’information internationale sur le Tibet: Tibet 1908–2014 La vie du Xe panchen-lama est très complexe. Lui-même est une figure tragique, pris dans les bouleversements politiques […]
January 31, 2014

Concerning the Lingering Question of Sde-srid Sangs-rgyas rgya-mtsho’s Paternity

For some time the idea has circulated that Sde-srid Sangs-rgyas rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama’s regent, was also the latter’s son. While a number of Western historians have accepted this story, recent scholarship, mostly from Tibet and China, has rejected it, based most conclusively on a sound analysis of the chronology of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s absence from Tibet and the time of birth of the regent. Almost all modern scholars have agreed that the rumor is unmentioned in contemporaneous Tibetan sources. However, with the publication of Sle-lung Bzhad-pa’i rdo-rje’s autobiography a source from the period in question that mentions the rumor has finally become accessible. Nevertheless, the context in which the story appears anchors it in the hostility and resentment over the recognition of Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho as the Fifth Dalai Lama and places it with other allegations meant to impugn the hierarch’s legitimacy. As such, it doesn’t trump the solid chronological case for rejecting the rumor of the regent’s blood tie to the Dalai Lama.
January 26, 2014

Collateral Damage

The January 15th arrest of Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur, a professor, and an activist for the rights of the Uyghur people inside the People’s Republic of […]
August 7, 2013

Si tu pan chen chos kyi ’byung gnas in History: A Brief Note

Abstract Situ Chökyi Jungné’s (1699/1700-1774) history of the Karma Kagyüpa is a vital source for the history of his subsect and for Tibetan history from the […]
May 8, 2013


Note:  A postscript was added to this essay on May 15, 2013** About a year-and-a-half ago I was having dinner with a group of friends in […]
December 31, 2012

Conversations and Debates: Chinese and Tibetan Engagement with the Broader Discussion of Self-Immolation in Tibet

In a previous, short look at the phenomenon of self-immolation in Tibet.[1] I began by contrasting the early reactions of Tibetans in exile to the first […]